“Did You Win?”

What is the first question you ask someone after they have just played a big match? It should NOT be, “Did you win?”

Agreeing with the philosophy of Jeff Greenwald in his “Fearless Tennis” CDs, asking that question focuses only on the RESULTS and totally dismisses the PROCESS … Did your friend play well? Did he make shots that he has been working on? Did he have fun on the court?

While in the locker room at Payne Park last week, one of the better 65 tournament players, Timm Rinehart came in after his semi-finals singles match vs. Henk Nijeboer (world #5 70s player). And I asked him, “How did you play today?”

His face lit up… and said, “I played great! I took him to a tiebreaker in the first set and played well in the second set too.” He was very happy with his day on the court, losing against one of the better players.

But had someone asked him, “Did you win?”… his answer was just going to be “No.” And then he would have to try to justify his loss.

On that same plane, the parent/friend/coach who says to his player after a tough match or tournament, “I sure wish you were able to win that last game/match,” says to the player, “Sure, you did OK to get where you were, but I am disappointed that you were unable to seal the deal and win.”

I do not think people play tournament matches just “to win.” Unless you are the likes of Larry Turville, Mike Dahm, or Fred Drilling, YOU ARE GOING TO EVENTUALLY LOSE.

If all you care about is “winning,” go find some 3.5 player to beat up on all the time. But if what you care about is trying to improve, playing a game that you enjoy, one that brings you great conditioning, one that gets you out on the court with friends and future friends… then put that perspective on what you talk about after matches.

End of sermon.

This week’s Florida Super Senior Grand Prix tournament (which I am NOT playing) is being played in St. Petersburg. For the tournament link, click HERE

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8 thoughts on ““Did You Win?”

  1. Good sermon George. Now I won’t feel so bad next time I lose. Dave Spilseth

    Dave – as rare as that is for you! george

  2. This is great stuff, George. You are so right that the question should pertain to process over outcome. Of course when asked an outcome-based question such as “Did you win?” the respondent is not in a courtroom and therefore has the right to counter with, “Let me tell you how it went.”

    Jeff Greenwald is so right; though I wish he’d call his concepts “joyful” rather than “fearless.” There’s a perhaps inadvertent negativity in the “fearless” concept that I don’t think is necessary for tennis (or anything).

    Those great players have their share of losses too — and if they don’t, then they’re not reaching enough either.

    Keep up the great work, George. The very addressing of this stuff is already a victory.

    Joel – i think there are really two aspects to Jeff’s teachings … one is the “joyful” side of being happy to be out there; the other is in specific stroke/serving situations to be “fearless” of any “consequences” of missing. thanks, george.

  3. Fantastic article. For those players bumped up a level should all read this article. Leave it all on the court and there are no regrets.


  4. Great point George! Its not whether you win or lose but how you play the game and show good sportsmanship! Good stuff as always!

  5. Obviously George, I agree 100%. Winning should not be the sole criteria. Its getting out there, hitting the ball and enjoying a good workout. The question I always ask is, How did you do? As you know, you can do very well without winning.

  6. For Joel: I saw Jeff Greenwald upset Peter Smith in La Jolla a few years ago; & maybe ‘ fearless ‘ is the right word for him, for sure on that day. Peter had won this National ( 40 Hard) 4 or 5 times straight by blasting everybody off the court, & was blasting Jeff in the final, maybe 6-1, 2-0 or the like; & suddenly Jeff’s junk began to work… The rest is history; & a Gold ball to show for it…

  7. Bob — I’ve seen Jeff Greenwald play enough to see indeed what a tremendous player he is. My point is that the word “fearless” starts with fear and my belief is that in so much of what we do — particularly a hobby — we should start with “joy” and build on it that way. You may think this is merely a matter of semantics but to me it is deeply important to start our hobbies — activities we choose — from a positive place rather than the negative one of fear, anxiety, etc. Certainly there is fear, but why start that way?

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